MedCup fleet arrives in Portugal

The Portugal Trophy fleet for the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit is all but assembled in the Marina of Portimao on the Algarve with all ten TP52 Series entries either at the dock, sailing or nearby. Of the five GP42 Series boats only the Circuit leading Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and Turismo Madrid have yet to arrive.

Winds have been very light out on the race area. Yesterday there were five TP52's out practising and tuning up in a breeze which scarcely mustered five or six knots at the very most in the warm sunshine.

The Portugal Trophy regatta falls at a busy and interesting time for the top professional sailors who race on both the TP52 Series and GP42 Series, and there are still key sailors due to fly in from a very diverse range of events, once again underlining the talent level on the World's Leading Regatta Circuit.

Only one Audi MedCup sailor arrives in Portimao having set a world speed record since the Region of Sardinia Trophy, Bribon's navigator Marcel Van Triest (NED) was navigator on Pascal Bidegorry's North Atlantic record beating Banque Populaire. Banque Pop set an incredible pace, sailing 908.2 miles in 24 hours – an incredible new record – en route to skimming 12 hours, 32 minutes and six seconds off the previous mark, to cross the Atlantic in 3 days 15 hours 25 minutes and 48 seconds.

Fresh from winning the Fastnet Race on corrected time, Matador's navigator Steve Hayles (GBR) is cock a hoop at winning the 608 miles ocean classic as navigator on Niklas and Catherine Zennstrom's Rán. Audi MedCup TP52 crew on board the winning boat included Cristabella's Tim Powell (GBR), who skippers Rán, Audi Q8's veteran main sheet trimmer Lou Varney (GBR) and Emirates Team New Zealand's Richard Meacham (NZL) as well as ETNZ coach Richard Bouzaid (NZL).

On the line honours winner, Mike Slade's Farr 100 Leopard was Emirates Team New Zealand's Ray Davies (NZL) and Phil Jameson (NZL), from Ericsson Racing Team's round the world winning crew who joins Quantum Racing (USA) here.

Among the other prominent Audi MedCup sailors on top Fastnet boats were Nacho Postigo (ESP), navigating the STP 65 Luna Rossa to second overall under IRC, along with Paul Westlake (AUS), mainsail trimmer on Matador (ARG) and Mark Mendelblatt (USA), strategist off Quantum Racing (USA). On Beau Geste, which finished eighth, was Cristabella's navigator Nat Ives (GBR).

While those, and others might be described as earning a crust as pro sailors on the Fastnet, those who will have spent the intervening period since Cagliari spending their hard earned on their own sailing, include the International Moth devotees who will are in flight back from Cascade Locks, Oregon where the World Championships finished yesterday. Emirates Team New Zealand's navigator Kevin Hall (USA) finished in tenth place, just ahead of Charlie McKee (USA) previously with Audi Q8. Quantum Racing's Morgan Larson (USA) finished in 18th place.

And the highly regarded Star World Championships, which finished a week ago in Sweden, saw Artemis' strategist Hamish Pepper (NZL), 2006 Star world champion, prove he is on his game with second overall, sailing with Craig Monk, whilst local Portuguese skipper-helm of Bigamist VII finished 12th and Quantum Racing's Mendelblatt, finished 15th.

Back in Cagliaria, Sardinia Nerone won the Farr 40 European Championships immediately after the Region of Sardinia Trophy with Roma Mk 2's boat captain Pablo Torrado on board and Bribon's Victor Marinho (ESP).

Meantime, speaking of Star world champions, 1988 Star champion Paul Cayard (USA), tactician of Artemis, will carry on hitting the gym when and where he can this week in preparation for his tilt at the 505 World Championships on his home waters of St Francis YC, crewing for Howie Hamlin, at the worlds which start next Sunday, 23rd.

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